Buy, Buy, Bye, Bye.


I think I must have put them all in a box which is now in the loft. I remember separating them, dividing them by type, each having their own little baggie. When we moved all my stuff out of Railway Cuttings down to The Potting Shed I’m pretty sure that they were in a box which ended up in the loft. Or the garage. Or under the stairs. Wherever it is, I want to find that box because I’m gonna need it. With the Euro’s future likely to be confined to Pathe News, episodes of QI or International Baccalaureate history exams, I’m gonna need something to spend on my next trip.

There was a bag containing Marks, one which had about thirty quid worth of Francs therein, and another with a collection of Pesetas, Drachmas, Italian lira and and Dutch Guilder. In total I reckon there’s at least 60 quid’s worth of old foreign currency,nearly enough to buy me a cup of coffee on Rue de Rivoli. How glad am I that at the time I couldn’t be bothered to hand over all my loose European change to those charities who, back in 2002, were asking for the coins “we wouldn’t need again”? At last my inertia and apathy towards helping others is paying off. Well that’s my guess anyway.

Now I know I’m only guessing, and my glass is typically half empty, but guesswork is all I’m left with as I’m no economist. No, really I’m not. I know I’m a world authority on cricket, lemons, modern art and movies, but I fall just short when it comes to economic nouse.

Not that the supposed experts know what’s gonna happen either: Tony Blair said that the collapse of the Euro would be “catastrophic” for the UK and urged all of us to get behind it. I don’t actually know how to get behind a euro, but on the other hand Tony once told me that I had 45 minutes to put on my tin hat and get to the air raid shelter before the nasty beardy-wierdies attacked. Well, as Tony’s mate George Bush once said “Fool me once, shame on … shame on you. Fool me … You can’t get fooled again.” So I think it’s fair to say I won’t be heeding what Blair says. Let’s look farther afield for help:

Chancellor Merkel has indicated that Germany either receives Britain’s support for invading Belg…sorry, for economic treaty changes or Germany will go it alone, drawing a new map of Europe with Germany at it’s fore. Where does she get her ideas from ? The German Chancellor can’t stand the French President Sarkozy, which doesn’t make her a member of a particularly exclusive club, but both countries hate Britain more, and this antagonistic feeling is only second to their disgust at Greece for dropping us all in the mire, so they have common enemies: David Cameron and this week’s Greek PM, [subs: please fill in name here].

Events in Italy seem to have muddied the waters even further. Berlusconi’s finally gone, just not that very far. He’s made it clear he still intends to make a comeback (this man has the Blair-like gift of being unshakeable and unshameable), and anyway, Super Mario Monti looks like he’s in Silvio’s pocket. No measures or acts will get through the Italian Parliament without the former Milanese Media Mogul’s nod. He’s still the leader of the biggest political party in the chamber, and we have learned from past events, he’s never out of the limelight for long. Once he gets a firm grip on either power or a woman’s gusset, he’s a bugger to shake off.

If you believe (and why the hell would you?) the analysts queuing up to talk to reporters, France looks like the next in line to go tits-up. The Euro economy domino theory goes thus: If Greece goes, Italy goes. If Italy goes, France goes. If France , Britain goes, (always bearing in mind that love grows where my Rosemary goes, and nobody knows like me).

No wonder Sarkozy, David Cameron and his attack-poodle George Osborne are looking nervous and sounding unusually vicious, even by their standards. Every one is blaming everyone else for the big pile of doo-doo we find ourselves in. But of course, still no-one is attacking the banks. Small businesses being refused bank loans, poor people being given huge mortgages which they could never have afforded to repay; mass redundancies and huge unemployment causing the collapse of the highs street: all these factors seem to have been forgotten.

The Brit govt blames the public sector workforce for striking in an attempt to save their pensions and pay.; the French blame Greek bin men and schoolteachers for not paying tax; the media blame the Italian citizen for voting for Berlusconi in the first place. UK finance minister Osborne has been blaming the referendum on Scottish devolution for the state of finances north of the border. Sarkozy accused Uraguay of being a tax-haven. Rare indeed for a French politician to consider tax havens as a bad thing. They’ll be coming out against extra-marital affairs next. Merkel, of course, is blaming everyone within spitting distance.

The shites are coming out, all over Europe.

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Ponting, Punches and Pudsey


Free beer for all’ if Aussies win Ashes

An Australian brewer offered a free beer to every adult in the country if Australia beat England in the upcoming Ashes cricket Tests.  VB on Tuesday pledged to “shout the nation” if Australia win back the coveted trophy in the five-Test series, starting November 25.

“This summer, when the final wicket falls and the Aussies lift the urn triumphantly, Australia’s best cold beer pledges to ‘shout the nation’,” the company said.”That’s one ice-cold VB for every eligible person of drinking age, and one huge celebration of the rightful return of the Ashes.” AFP

Yes, we’ve reached the silly season as the long-awaited Ashes series is nearly upon us. I’m sure you’re as excited as I am, counting the days til the first ball is bowled in Brisbane next Friday. Forget your F1 finales, your World Series or your European Championship footy, this is proper, real important sport and things have begun to get weird. A few weeks ago Londoners were treated to the sight of the mug of Aussie captain Ricky Ponting projected onto the Big Ben clock tower at Westminster in London, though it wasn’t clear to many what message that was supposed to send. Was Ricky trying to defect ? If so he could have saved himself the effort: we’ve already got one under-performing show-pony from the southern hemisphere masquerading in English colours and we don’t need another, thanks all the same.

Then yesterday the Australian Cricket Board announced its ‘team’ to face the Poms in the first match. Where traditionally you’d expect 12 or maybe 13 names on the sheet from which the final 11 would be selected, the ACB decided that 17 men were still in with a chance of representing their country. This uncertainty by the board may be the first example of  group of Australians with no convictions. I haven’t seen (or had the time to read) the full list of Waynes, Shanes, Quades, Sharleens or Marlenes on the list, but I hear Russell Crowe was in with an outside chance and Rolf Harris is a decent opening bat, though not as quick as he used to be between the wickets. Jason Donovan has not been selected due to his inability to disguise his wrong-un.

It’s not just the Strines who are showing the signs of nerves. Former England Captain Michael Vaughan looks like he’s also feeling the pressure of the build-up.

The interviewer had apparently started asking rude and nasty questions. He was stroppy as he’s one of the few Aussies not selected for the squad. He’d also stayed up all night to watch the Audley Harrison vrs David Haye fight earlier and didn’t expect any Englishman to throw a punch at any time in the near future. One can only presume that had Vaughan got into the ring with Audrey the fight would have been over 6 minutes earlier.

Sadly, rumour has it the video may well be either an advert by the Yorkshire Tourist Board or even worse a stunt dreampt up by those wags at the BBC for the upcoming Children in Need. There are many emotions which coarse though my veins when I watch a telethon and I have to admit that punching the nearest person is one of them. Watching 17 hours of half-baked skits and show-tunes performed by D-Listers is enough to turn anyone to violence. I’d willingly pledge the entire contents of my wallet (currently £7.46) if I didn’t have to watch the cast of Eastenders perform Yentl.  AGAIN!  The BBC Newsroom with doubtless be wheeled out yet again to embarrass themselves and others as they mince their way through Porgy and Bess or High School Musical.

They have a whole year to put this tosh together, surely they could come up with something better than JLS sing Meatloaf or whatever rubbish we’re gonna be subjected to? On the other hand, as the cricket will broadcast live through the night, I may just use Children in Need to help me change my sleep patterns. A quick flash of my credit card and I can tuck myself up in bed, dreaming of sunny Brisbane to the soundtrack of tumbling Australian wickets.

I dunno who these two blokes are but I could watch them all night. (Advanced warning: Two old codgers chat about Aussie cricket. Heaven)


Browned Off


“Ooh, you do look well !” she said
“You should see it from my side” I replied, unconvinced
“Been anywhere nice and sunny ? you have a tan”
“Not really”
“Didn’t you go to Amsterdam? Did you get stranded?”
“Yes. No”

I wasn’t really in the mood for idle persiflage. It was my first day back at work and I had more on my mind than how well I looked. The longer you take off work, the harder it is coming back. Perhaps I should take every other day off ? My colleague went back to her desk and I settled down at mine, turned on my pc and surveyed the scene. It was all exactly as I remembered. Same desks, same pile of work on top of mine, same people. Bugger.

Another workmate approached. “Christ you look well ! Where did you get that colour from ?”
“South East London” I said, not looking up.
“Ha ! Yeah, right”

It was partly true. The only real exposure to any sun I’d had over the past fortnight’s holiday was in my garden on Saturday and standing on the touchline on Sunday, watching a rugby match. Last weekend was the first time this year the UK has been blessed with warm sunshine and I decided to get me some of it. It’d been a long while since I’d had the chance to potter in the back yard, tending the plants and chatting with my old mates the blue tits and blackbirds, returning to my little patch of land to make merry, like old mates who’d been away on their hols for the winter. The return of my old mate the sun on my back was more than welcome.

Sunday, of course, saw the return of The London Marathon- a huge event in my part of town as 36,000 runners run around and along the streets, with plenty of vantage points to cheer on the Elite Ladies and the Complete Nutcases. It’s also long been my particular social event of the year and once again I was stood in a bar at 9am, this time with The Incumbent and keen ‘sports’ enthusiast, Shaun.

We managed to get a couple in before the lead women sped by the pub (in truth we missed the leaders as I’d mis-timed my-round) but thereafter we spent the morning, Guinnesses in hand, cheering and clapping on the masses as they jogged by. I met a couple of other old mates, Matt and Andy, who seemed pleased to see me, but neither would come in for a pint, try as a might to persuade them. Maybe it was too early on a Sunday morning for them, or maybe it was simply that they were trying to complete a marathon, I just don’t understand people.

Once the runners had all passed, and we’d taken advantage of a roast Sunday lunch, I suggested we finish off the day down at the rugby club, where there was a chance to meet more old friends, and maybe, just maybe, the bar would be open there too.

I’m happy to report I was correct on both assumptions. The sun shone, the beer flowed (we even watched a bit of rugby) and the gay badinage and repartee with the old gang went long and late into the evening. At least it would have done if our designated driver not been summoned to pick us up at 5.30. It was a fair call. We’d been on the beer since 9am and although a time of 8 hours 30 wouldn’t threaten any record books, our marathon had clearly run its course.

Back in the office on Monday. “Morning Mike, cor! you look well” chirped a happy voice passing.
“Well it’s either the blood pressure or adrenaline” I huffed, already tired of these alleged compliments. That bloke is a crawler anyway.

After a few hours the effects of the day before, coupled with first-day-back blues, had started to kick in. I popped some ibuprofen to clear my head. Ibuprofen is a double-edged sword for me: It’s the only drug that cures my headaches, but there’s something in it which I’m allergic too. Within an hours of taking it I come out in hives. Red blotchy lumps start appearing all over my back, my head and my face. It’s not a pretty sight. At their height, and to coin a popular phrase of the moment, I look like a beekeeper’s apprentice.

The afternoon wound on, with all the pain and sorrow I remembered so well from when last I was in the office, two weeks previously. I was beginning to wilt.

“Hello Mike, CHRIST you look awful ! You alright, mate?” came the assessment from the bloke at the coffee bar. My hives were in their pomp.

“No, not really, I need a holiday”

Fat Bloke Runs a Long Way


Johnny Mac is at it again, and this time going a tad further than the marathon distance. I post this sort of stuff cos it’s fun, interesting and for a good cause. Also, there’s a bit of me that thinks it gets me out of doing any running myself.

Anyway, click on the link below and enjoy his pain, and chuck some money his way if you feel the urge.

http://www.johnnersrunsjogle.com

Good on yer, John

.

A Marathon Innings


Here’s another in an occasional series of pleas to you kinder nature. I got this from my old mate Andy Bull, and in the spirit of first-come-first-serve he gets the begging-bowl slot for this year’s London Marathon.

Some of you may remember Andy as a brilliant wicketkeeper/batsmen for Dartfordians, if so I suggest you are either pissed or have Alzheimers. Every cricket team needs a great keeper, and we were no different. But you can’t have everything, can you? Anyway, that’s all water under the bridge (or byes between the legs) and we’ll say no more about it.

Just give him some money .

Hi all,

Yes it’s true!!

This April I will be donning my pumps once again and hauling my sorry backside 26.2 miles around the streets of our fair capital hoping to raise a large bin liner full of cash for the Down’s Syndrome Association.

As you will all know my 5 year old son, Joshua, was born with Down’s Syndrome and the DSA have been a constant support to us helping us over many of the hurdles that have presented themselves so it is time for me to give something back.

This is where you lovely lot come in. Break open those Piggy Banks, cash in those Christmas Matalan vouchers and dig deeply into the dark recesses of your pockets and kindly click on the ‘Sponsor Me’ button below.

The link to follow is: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AndyBull

And remember for the right price the head will get shaved, the body will get painted green or I will run the whole distance singing Boney M’s complete back catalogue!!

Please feel free to forward this email on to anyone with huge pots of cash and an enthusiasm to give it all to me.

Thanks again for your support and a big kiss from Josh x

Andy

Hard-boiled Eggs and Nuts


I had to go to work yesterday. I know that sounds like no big deal, but I had to go to work yesterday. I felt like shit—I was streaming and sweating, coughing and spluttering, couldn’t taste a thing and my hearing was on the fritz. It was the start of a rotten cold and what I should have done was worked from home. I should have done that, however I couldn’t: Yesterday was “Take your daughter to school day” and so I took my eldest into the office. Glad I did in the end cos it was great fun. I’ve done it several times before and it’s always been good. My daughter enjoyed it too I think, even though this time she asked me why I couldn’t work for NME as she has a subscription and “it’d be sooooo cooooolll to work there”. There was a time when whatever I did or said or wherever I worked was “sooo coooollll” but I guess my kids have reached that age when they can make up their own minds as to what they like.

I don't want you to drink, Mr Bond, I want you to diet!

I don't want you to drink, Mr Bond, I want you to diet!

Their unconditional belief in what I say has long gone. No longer do they believe daddy’s tall tales about being James Bond in his spare time (they believed that one for a month when they were nippers) or was dating Rachel Stevens (about a week), and I’ve gone from funny, exotic, cool daddy who lives in London, to the old, fat, bald bloke up the road. Such is the life of an estranged dad of teenage girls. Clever little sods.

In an attempt to sweat-out my cold last night I filled up with a cocktail of chilli con carne and Lemsip and took myself off for an early night. Should have plumped for the hot toddies: I feel dreadful today.

Like most blokes I know, I suffer in silence.

Thumping head, red-raw throat, sore, scabby nostrils and every muscle (sic) left in my body aching like buggery (apparently). Called in sick to the boss who unsurprisingly was unecstatic. Having taken many of these calls from staff over the years you’re torn between the annoyance of being a man down, and the relief that you’ll be spared a day of being covered in snot and germs from a colleague. On the other side of the fence, no matter how ill you are, there’s always the guilt to deal with of not being in work.

Anyway, enough of this martyr talk. What’s more important is I’m bored. REALLY bored. Having no energy to do anything much more than fester, I’m stuck on the sofa looking out at cornflower-blue sky outside, inanely tapping up and down the tv channels with as much chance of finding something interesting to watch as there is of me winning the London Marathon on Sunday. Which is another thing: Sunday’s marathon is one of my favourite days in the calender. But instead of propping up the bar at The Angerstein Hotel, Greenwich on Sunday morning, watching the runners jog by, I shall doubtless be pouring mucus into a box of Kleenex while sat on my couch in front of the box. Even if I manfully struggled down to the pub, I wouldn’t be able to taste my pint, and what’s the point of that?
4

We’ve been trotting down en masse to The Angerstein (known as The Loony Bin—you’ll find out why when you meet the locals) to watch the Marathon for the last twelve years-or-so. Many of us to soak up the atmosphere of one of the Capital’s great occasions with world-class athletes, huge crowds, the fun-runners and all the colours of the rainbow. Some go down merely to watch the Elite Ladies sprint past, then return home to a warm bed (you know who you are), then there are those who go simply to celebrate the opening of a pub at 8.45 on a Sunday morning. So there’s something for everyone. There was something quite liberating that first year standing in The Loony, pint in hand, next to a copper before 9 o’clock in the morning and there was nothing he could do to stop me. It’s the little things in life that count. A fourteen-hour session of drinking, eating (?) and endless, pointless Jazz one-Sunday-in-fifty-two: that’s not too much to ask for, is it?

As the years rolled by and the various members of our group came and went as they got loved-up, engaged, married, divorced, deported etc, it’s a nice feeling to have been almost ever-present (to my dying shame I missed one year due to a business trip) and still experience the thrill of that first pint 3 hours before I should, copper or no-copper. It’s a boy thing.

But I suspect this year, due to my disabilitating illness, I’ll have to endure the dulcet tones of Steve Cram, Sue Barker et al as I’m forced to watch the race on the Beeb. I wonder if they’ll sober-up Brendan Foster for the occasion? Probably not—just to rub it in.

Go on, my girl!

Go on, my girl!

How Many Roads Must a Man Walk Down?


You need militants on a demonstration. You need passion and commitment and a sense of purpose. If you’re undecided or wishy-washy your march is never gonna get off the ground. Can you imagine the leader of the Liberal Party (Simon Pegg, I think his name is) organising a demo? It’d be as effective as a solar panel in Salford. “What do we want?: DON’T KNOW; When do we want it?: SOME TIME IN THE NEAR FUTURE, IF IT’S NOT TOO MUCH TROUBLE” is not gonna get anyone excited.

So you need heart. You need drive. Often, some of this passion boils over into violence which is why we see thousands of Plod on the streets of London this morning, having had Knacker cancel all leave. Shame. But we are (up to a point, Lord Copper) exercising our right to demonstrate, and a march without passion or a smidge of violence becomes a ramble— and the Church organises those, complete with kagools and sponsorship forms. No thanks.

I was 13 when my brother took me on my first demo— The Rock Against Racism/Anti Nazi League march from Trafalgar Square to Victoria Park in East London (30th April 1978, for anyone taking notes). Fucking miles! But it was fantastic. Hundreds of thousands (Police estimate:143) of like-minded people marching for a common cause: crush racism in the UK. It was 1978 and the National Front were becoming a little strong for our liking, so we marched in protest. And we sang. “The National Front is a Nazi Front, SMASH THE NATIONAL FRONT We sang it all day. For mile after mile. We ALL sang it. It was bleedin tedious.

RAR_carnival_78_poster

Google Maps tells me the direct route between Trafalgar Square and the park is 5.9 miles. Well we didn’t go the straight route (Plod diverted us away from the posh bits in the City) and my brilliant 13 yr old mind told me we walked at LEAST 15 miles. 15 miles of singing the same song. It was like listening to a Morrisey Album all afternoon: torture. But it was a thrill for me at a tender age: collecting ANL and RAR badges. AND placards, and leaflets and flyers and pamphlets. Oh! Think of the Trees, Mike, all that wood n paper!!! well this was BGB (Before Geldof and Bono) and no-one gave a monkeys about the planet or the rainforest. A witty cardboard slogan nailed to a lovely bit of 4×2 was the weapon of choice for both pacifist and anarchist.

The Author (back row, third from left), prepares to leave Trafalgar Square. Note bad haircut

The Author (back row, third from left), prepares to leave Trafalgar Square. Note bad haircut

I was proud to have my photo taken by the Police snapper when it was my turn to carry the big banner (what DID they think I was gonna do?) waved at the spotters on the roofs, and ran away quickly when some of the bigger boys started lobbing stuff at the police. But on the whole it seemed to me to be a good-natured event, (I swear that copper was smiling as they wiped the blood from his head) and it ended with my first rock concert in the park and my first sight of Joe Strummer and the boys. I was in heaven.
So we had one message and one march. And one song.

Fast forward to today. Sit down, I have something to tell you: One of today’s marches goes from London Bridge to The Bank of England.That’s a distance of less than a mile. I have longer nostril hair than that !!

Come on guys, put a bit of effort in.

And the coalition of beefs these people have is mind-boggling: Anti Banks, Anti War, Anti Welsh, Save the Planet, Reclaim the Streets, Right to Work, Right to Left, Anarchists, Pacifists, Cyclists, Monarchists, Buggerists, Typists the list is endless. What are they gonna sing? Is there a running order? (mind you, by the time the London Bridge mob reach their destination they’d have hardly had time for a couple of lines of We Shall Overcome). As far as I’m aware they won’t be passing a McDonalds, a Shell garage, or a branch of Barclays: all classic targets for the mob (I still mourn the end of South Africa House demos). Perhaps they can get more miles under their belts by marching round and round in circles a la American pickets in episodes of The West Wing, Columbo etc. (Why DO they go round in circles??)

Say Cheese!

Say Cheese!

So let’s hope for a good clean fight today. We won’t throw lamp posts at you if you put away the CS gas and the horses. We promise not to lynch anyone, if you promise not to lie about the numbers attending. AND if you’re gonna single us out and snap potential “troublemakers” at least make the pics available to us, so that years from now I’ll have a copy of the photo for my blog.
Up the Revolution !!

Unfunny for Money


A woman tried to sell me a fireplace this morning. No she didn’t: she tried to give me a free fireplace. All I had to do was to have a new central heating system installed in my house. You’ve probably met her. She stands just a little way along from the 2 MENCAP chuggers, just before you get to the “Fitness First” leaflet girl and the Childline herberts. The streets are full of weird-looking people asking for your money.

3321818699_a8feb7b90b_b1
Would you give money to this man?

Remember when the walk to work was just a matter of negotiating the occasional RNLI flag-seller or the Salvation Army? No? Well you’re younger than me, then. The Sally Army started it all, and I guess they did have a kind of dignity about them. Back in the days of black-and-white an old girl from the Sally Army used to come into my grandad’s pub selling copies of The Warcry.
Brian would put down his darts and agree to buy one, on the condition she stood on a chair and sang a song, which she always did without argument (presumably Onward Christian Soldiers, or Bringing in the Sheaves).

She was then helped down off the chair, and left the pub bereft of one copy of her newspaper, but up to the tune of a couple of farthings. Certainly a better deal than she’d get nowadays. If she walked into my pub shouting “Warcry” she’d be greeted with a drunk chorus of “Geronimo !!!”. No sheaves would be brought, and certainly no rejoicing would have been had doing it.

So as I sit here in my bathtub full of Taka Dahl, resplendent in my Madonna T-shirt and Red Nose (yes, it’s that sodding time again) I want to make it clear to you all that I’m in no-way adverse to a bit of charity work. I give to the causes I like, when and how I like. Not in mid-pint, mid-pee or mid-grouch on the way to work, just cos some spotty git waves a clipboard at me on London Bridge. WHY AREN’T YOU AT SCHOOL ANYWAY ????

Talking of charity cases, is there any hope for the England Rugby XV this year? Probably not. Martin Johnson is looking more and more like the deckchair attendant on the Titanic, as his charges dive cauliflower-ears first over the side and into the icy waters of the sin-bin. Refs are handing out cards like Japenese reps at a sales conference?
2887968550_7eb2c52b5f_b1
An England fan displays both
his displeasure and his goolies.

To take our mind off the inevitable victory of a French XV over an England XI, let’s all join hands and pray for an Italian win. That’d make up for everything—even the cricket.
Oh well, that’s my weekend plan anyway: In front of the rugby on the telly with a crate of beer, on a warm sofa and the fire at full blast (cos, you see, I already own one.)